Ace of Base: 2018 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-Door

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
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ace of base 2018 mini cooper hardtop 2 door

The rebooted Mini brand was launched nearly 20 years ago, an alarming reminder of the relentless march of time and my own rapidly disappearing hairline. Since its introduction, when it competed for customer cash during the retro boom, the brand has grown into a full line of cars, ranging from the original Hardtop to plug-in hybrids and the oddly lumpy Clubman.

Far from its humble roots, it is now possible to spend north of $50,000 on a Mini in 2018. How does the base model stack up at less than half that price? Let’s find out.

Starting at $21,600 sans destination fees, the least costly Cooper is available in any color you want … as long as it’s Moonwalk Grey. Every other color – from Electric Blue to British Racing Green – will cost an extra $500 at minimum. Still, a trio of exterior trims are available for $0.

Under the retro hood is a boosted 1.5-liter inline-three whose turbocharging and direct injection are good for 134 horsepower at a reasonable 4,400 rpm. Even more appealing for around-town drivers, all 162 lb-ft of torque from the three angry squirrels comes online at a barely-off-idle 1,250 rpm. Equipped with a six-speed manual, the Hardtop should make 60 mph from a standstill in about 7.5 seconds. A tidy 98.2-inch wheelbase and quick-ratio electric steering means the Cooper darts around like hyperactive cats on a hot tin roof.

Occupants of the Cooper won’t be hot, as air conditioning is standard equipment on the cheapest of Minis, even seeing fit to vent some of its cold air into the glovebox to create a quasi-cooler for drinks. Luxuries like one-touch power windows, heated mirrors, and automatic headlamps are all on tap. Bluetooth infotainment and handy USB charging are along for the ride, too

A snazzy start/stop button awaits the itchy trigger finger of its driver, along with a backup camera and a raft of airbags. In another good turn for new drivers, every new Mini comes standard with a comprehensive maintenance program, covering scheduled service stops for the first three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Given that much of America currently resembles the planet Hoth, it’s worth noting Mini gives customers the option of selecting all-season tires for $0 in place of the standard performance-oriented hoops. They’re 15 inches in diameter, by the way, keeping future replacement costs from climbing into the upper stratosphere.

So a true Ace of Base, then? Not quite. I’d spring for the $100 white turn signal kit, which swaps the standard amber turn signals for a clear set, removing the stock units which resemble infected tear ducts. Still, considering the level of standard equipment and the dose of unique style it provides, one can certainly think of worse cars on which to spend $21,600.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make our automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you’d like to see in our series? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer will probably sell for less.

[Images: BMW Group]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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4 of 40 comments
  • Jerome10 Jerome10 on Jan 03, 2018

    I loved the original S that I had driven. The zippy nature and the burbling on deceleration. Car was a blast, but price and reliability concerns kept me from pulling the trigger. I don't know about these new ones, I don't have a MINI dealer near me anyway, but if they still have that beat-the-snot-outta-me-please feel, I could see this being a solid selection for Ace of Base. Something about those cars in a Miata-type way but somehow seemed to be even more fun despite FWD and all that jazz.

  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Jan 04, 2018

    Everything else in this segment outperforms the car with a lower price. This car exists so affluent white suburbanites have something to give to their 16 year old daughters.

    • See 1 previous
    • Maymar Maymar on Jan 04, 2018

      Considering there's 3-4 MINIs of various age in my condo garage, I'd say they're also relatively popular with urbanites who want a small car, but don't want to look like they want a small car for the sake of being cheap. Not much else out there fits that bill.

  • Jeff NYC does have the right to access these charges and unless you are traveling on business or a necessity you don't have to drive or live in NYC. I have been in NYC a few times and I have absolutely no desire to go back. I can say the same thing about Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston where I lived for 29 years. A city can get too big where it is no longer livable for many. I was raised in West Houston near the Katy Freeway which is part of I-10. The Katy Freeway when I moved from Houston in 1987 was a 6 lane road--3 lanes on each side of the interstate with each side having side access roads which we called feeder roads for a total of 8 lanes. Today the Katy freeway has 26 lanes which include feeder roads. I went back to Houston in 2010 to see my father who was dying and lost any desire to go back. To expand the Katy Freeway it took thousands of businesses to be torn down. I read an article about future expansion of the Katy freeway that said the only way to expand it was to either put a deck above it or to go underground. One of the things the city was looking at was to have tolls during the peak hours of traffic. Houston is very flat and it is easier to expand the size of roads than in many eastern cities but how easy is it to expand a current road that already has 26 lanes and is one of the widest roads in the World. It seems that adding more lanes to the Katy freeway just expanded the amount of traffic and increased the need for more lanes. Just adding more lanes and expanding roads is not a long term solution especially when more homes and businesses are built in an area. There was rapid growth In Northern Kentucky when I lived in Hebron near the Northern Kentucky Cincinnati Airport. , Amazon built a terminal and facility onto the airport that was larger than the rest of the airport. Amazon built more warehouses, more homes were being built, and more businesses. Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties in Northern Kentucky are constantly expanding roads and repairing them. Also there is the Brent Spence Bridge which crosses the Ohio River into Cincinnati that is part of I-71 and I-75 and major North and South corridor. The bridge is 60 years old and is obsolete and is in severe disrepair. I-71 and I-75 are major corridors for truck transportation.
  • Art_Vandelay It's not like everyone is topping their ICE vehicles off and coasting into the gas station having used every last drop of fuel either though. Most people start looking to fill up at around a 1/4 of a tank. If you constantly run the thing out of gas your fuel pump would probably be unhappy. If you running your EV to zero daily you probably bought the wrong vehicle
  • ToolGuy Imagine how exciting the automotive landscape will be once other manufacturers catch up with Subaru's horizontally-opposed engine technology.
  • FreedMike Oh, and this..."While London likes to praise its own congestion charging for reducing traffic and increasing annual revenues, tourism has declined..."The reason London's tourism numbers are down is that the city has resumed its' "tourist tax." And why did the tourist tax get reimposed? Brexit.
  • Dukeisduke Eh, still a Nissan. Nope.